“For a real understanding of de Mazenod’s intention, the religious situation of France at that moment must be kept in mind.

All religious communities of men and women in France had been suppressed during the Revolution (1789-1799),
their houses and churches were destroyed or used for secular purposes,
the secular clergy was persecuted – murdered, imprisoned, driven into exile and hiding –
and all seminaries were closed for many years.
The effects of this continued to be felt long after the end of overt persecution.Thus the number of active priests between 1809 and 1815 dropped from 31,870 to 25,874.”

(W. Woestmann, http://www.omiworld.org/en/dictionary/dictionary-of-oblate-values_vol-1_p/1072/priesthood/)

This is the context in which the Oblates were founded, and it explains something of the urgency that Eugene felt when he wanted to alleviate the suffering of the Church:

The Church, that glorious inheritance purchased by Christ the Saviour at the cost of his own blood, has in our days been cruelly ravaged. The beloved spouse of God’s only begotten Son is torn with anguish as she mourns the shameful defection of the children she herself bore. Christians, but apostates, and utterly mindless of God’s blessings, they provoke divine justice by their crimes… Such is the state of things brought about by the malice and corruption of present-day Christians that it can be truly said that the greater number of them are worse off now than was the gentile world before its idols were destroyed by the Cross.
Faced with such a deplorable situation, the Church earnestly appeals to the ministers whom she herself enrolled in the cause of her divine Spouse, to do all in their power, by word and example, to rekindle the flame of faith that has all but died in the hearts of so many of her children.


For two hundred years we have continued to respond to the same invitation, which we re-commit ourselves to again now

“The call of Jesus Christ, heard within the Church through people’s need for salvation, draws us together as Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Christ thus invites us to follow him and to share in his mission through word and work.”   CC&RR Constitution 1

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene’s words, his reasons for founding the Oblates touch me deeply – and their invitation urge me to look more closely within myself to places where I have not wanted to explore. My experience of the Church has been radically different from that of Eugene. So unable to deny this opportunity, I have this morning taken advantage of the opportunity offered in this safe and sacred space. I left the church so as to try to escape her shame, her humanness and weakness and succeeded only in having an open wound that was a constant reminder of all that I hated and – all that I was missing. During my time apart of from her I hungered to be within her fold and was able to recognize that a few did not mean all. Even when I returned to the Church (a very cautious move) it took me a long time to let down my guard. But I ended up joining an Oblate parish and this was the beginning of my own ongoing salvation. I saw some of her flaws but I also saw concrete, lived examples of a great love and immense forgiveness. I was already aware of the awesome forgiveness and mercy of God but a few Oblates, one honorary and in particular two brothers showed me what it looked like when lived on a daily basis. They were an invitation for me to open my heart and begin to look and reflect on what I found there. I am aware of a small freedom within me and a growing joy as I sit here for that is what comes from daring to take a closer look.

    I was not the reason that Eugene founded the Oblates but I was one of those who has been deeply touched by Eugene and his Oblates. I remember wondering when God gave me the Oblates as gift and me to them if he really knew what he was doing – how could it ever be?

    I love my Church and she is a part of me just as I am a part of her, both of us strong because of our weaknesses. I love the Oblates and am a part of them in a very special way even though I am a lay woman. It is in walking with the Oblates that I read Constitution 1 and say yes and thank you in the same breath.

    This morning has been a spectacular grace and I thank God for all that I am given, for all whom he gives me to walk with. As we move towards – dare I say ‘our’ – bicentenary I grasp the hand of Eugene which he holds out and my heart begins again to sing.

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